A Middletown man has admitted guilt to two murders last November in the city.
Douglas Best, 29, of Richmond Street, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of aggravated murder with gun specifications for the death of Joseph Romano at his Lafayette Avenue and for the shooting death of Tiffany Hoskins, whose body was found inside a Jacoby Avenue house.
Judge Greg Stephens sentenced Best to two life sentences in prison with the possibility of parole after serving 51 years. Several felony counts against Best, including burglary and arson, were dismissed in exchange for the plea.
It was the same sentence handed down by the judge to one of three co-defendants who also took a plea deal.
Romano was shot to death on Nov. 4, hit four times by bullets, three of them striking him in the chest, leg and neck. He was killed in his kitchen at 1517 Lafayette Ave., according to Middletown police.
Hoskins was found shot inside a home at 1507 Jacoby Ave. just hours later on Nov. 5. Middletown firefighters were called to the scene and found flames shooting from the second floor and Hoskins’ body at the top of the home’s stairway.
Best wiped away tears as he offered an apology in court.
“I know there ain’t nothing I can say to change the way the victims feel, but I am truly remorseful for what I did to two innocent people for no reason,” Best said. “There is nothing I can say to take it back or change it, but if I could I would and it’s not just because I am cold, it messes with me so bad. I can’t even sleep at night.”
Best’s attorney Michelle Temmel told the judge that she believes life took a wrong turn for her client when is was set to the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the age of 12.
“I am not making excuses for Doug, but his is where it went wrong,” Temmel said.
The families of Hoskins and Romano sat in the court’s front row and blasted Best with words while standing a few feet away.
Tina Payne said it wasn’t enough for Best to have killed her sister, but he beat and raped her, then poured bleach on her and set her on fire.
“She never met a stranger. If she had five dollars to her name, she would have given it to you,” Payne told Best. “She had the softest voice and the sweetest giggle.”
Payne told Best, “I think you are a monster and a coward. You, Douglas Best, belong in prison for the rest of your life …. you, Douglas Best, not only took my sister, but also my mother because she is slowly dying of a broken heart.”
Judy Mills, Hoskins’ mother, clutched her daughter and screamed and sobbed as she addressed Best.
“I just want to know why,” Mills screamed. “I just want to know why you killed my daughter.”
Amanda Profitt, Romano’s niece, told Best that her uncle would have given him anything he wanted.
“All you had to do is ask,” she said.
“I cannot forgive you for what you have done … we were all robbed,” Profitt said to Best.
Before sentencing Best, the judge called his crimes heinous.
“You are looking at a very bleak future,” Stephens said. “My heart goes out to your family also, Mr. Best, because I know you destroyed them also.”
In April, co-defendant Derrick Brown, 22, of 815 Crawford St., pleaded guilty as charged to attempted burglary, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and aggravated murder for his part in the death of Romano.
A November trial date as been set for the last co-defendant Charles Ray Graham, 27, of 2002 Pearl St. He is charged with attempted burglary and participating in a criminal gang.
Middletown police say the men were members of a gang called the Cincinnati White Boys.